What to do if you're involved in a car accident that wasn't your fault
A serious, multi-vehicle, chain-reaction car accident involving a public NYC bus recently sent at least 13 people to the hospital, including one person who was critically hurt.
The accident happened on Jerome Avenue in the Bronx's Norwood neighborhood, around 11 a.m., on a Thursday in late July.
New York City Police say that the pile-up started when a 20-year-old man driving a Chevrolet Equinox attempted to change lanes and collided with a Toyota Rav-4. The impact propelled the Toyota into an oncoming, in-service Bee-Line bus. The bus then slammed into a steel support column outside Woodlawn station.
Among those transported to Jacobi Hospital were 12 bus passengers with non-life-threatening injuries and one 69-year-old man with "severe trauma to the head," Norwood News reports. Video of the accident spread quickly on Citizen App. Several local news stations picked up the story and included surveillance video with their reports.
While this devastating crash rightfully received a lot of local attention, it's worth remembering that a car accident happens in New York City once every 2.3 minutes. This is the city that never sleeps, and the traffic that drivers endure here is unrivaled. You've got to keep an eye out and drive defensively in NYC, but even the best driver can get rear-ended or T-boned by someone else who isn't driving responsibly.
What to do after a NYC car accident
Most people don't instinctively know what to do after a bad car accident, but it does help to be prepared. If you drive, you should know what to do after a crash to make sure you're in the best position to protect your health and legal rights. If you've already been in an accident, there are still things you can do to improve your chances of getting compensation for your damages (accident-related expenses).
- Call 911. After an accident, make sure you are safe, then call 911. You need the police to make an official accident report to file with your claim. The responding officer will make a record of the accident scene and take statements about what happened from everyone involved, as well as witnesses.
- Take photos and video. Even though the police will do their own investigation, it's a good idea for you to start collecting your own evidence while you're waiting for them to arrive (but only if you're healthy enough to do so). Things move fast after an accident. Before the police arrive, the at-fault driver could make changes to the crash site, witnesses could leave, evidence could be removed or hidden. Make sure to get photos and video from multiple angles of the crash site, point of impact, as well as property damage and any visible injuries. Photo and video evidence can paint an accurate picture of what happened and are a good way to document the crash scene.
- Talk to witnesses. The police will talk to witnesses, but not everyone who sees the crash will be able to stay until the responding officer(s) arrives. Some people will decline to talk to the police, but are more than happy to help with your claim. Get witnesses' names, contact information, and what they saw. Eyewitness testimony can be a powerful piece of evidence when pursuing a claim.
- Make a timeline. Write down or record a timeline of events leading up to the crash as soon as you are able. Record the time, date, location, people involved, car makes, road conditions, weather, and any actions you can remember leading up to the crash. This is your record and it will help you recall the accident later on when memories naturally start to get hazy.
- Get checked out by a medical professional. Even if you feel fine after an accident, if an emergency responder offers to check you out or treat you after a crash, let them. Car accident injuries are not always apparent to the victim right away. You're in shock, your adrenaline is flowing, and the scene around you is chaotic. An emergency medical technician (EMT) can spot serious damage you may not feel yet. Seeing an EMT also establishes a medical record of your condition immediately after the crash. This will make it harder, later on, for insurance adjusters to claim that your injuries happened somewhere else and not in the crash.
- Stick to the facts. A lot of people will be asking you questions after an accident. The police, insurance agents, the guy that hit you— they'll all want information from you. Do your best to stick to the basic, objective facts. Do not go into detail and do not speculate. Very few people are in the right frame of mind to give a statement that will determine their fault in a serious accident right after being hit by a car or truck. It is fine to say that you are not able to make a statement at the time, but you will be back in touch with information soon.
- See a doctor. You were examined by an EMT at the crash scene, but should you still see a doctor? Yes. A doctor has more time, training, and equipment to examine you after a crash. They may be able to identify injuries like internal bleeding and fractures that otherwise might go unnoticed.
- Call a lawyer. A lot of people think hiring a car accident lawyer is expensive, but the vast majority of injury attorneys don't require any upfront money and work on a contingency fee basis. That means their fee is a percentage of any settlement or verdict they obtain on your behalf, and if they don't win, you don't pay. Most lawyers also provide free case consultations, so there's very little downside to at least talking to a car accident attorney about your legal rights and options.
Giampa Law fights for crash victims in the Bronx & NYC
Our law firm has the knowledge and experience to help you maximize the value of your claim. We've been a staple in NYC for more than 30 years and take pride in fighting for the rights of injured New Yorkers. If you were injured or a loved one died in an accident, contact us today to schedule a free case evaluation. We're located in the Bronx right near Yankee Stadium and Supreme Court of Bronx County. If you can't come to us, we can also come to you—whatever works best for you.